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Counselling Service podcasts

These podcasts have been developed to address some of the particular concerns that students at the University speak about when they attend the Counselling Service.  

Give yourself the time to listen and reflect on the material in a quiet and private space so that you can get the most out of them. Some of the broadcasts are relatively lengthy (up to 15 minutes) so require a commitment to listen and engage, some of them are divided into parts.

All podcasts can be listened to on the University's podcast site, or downloaded from iTunes U.

Introducing CBT for low mood and depression

Part 1: doing more of what matters to you: 15 mins, 37 secs
This first episode on CBT looks at some of the ways in which low mood and depression can manifest in students, and introduces a central cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) strategy known as "behavioural activation".

Part 2: six troublesome thoughts and how to respond: 19 mins 04 secs
This second CBT podcast focuses on the "C" of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), looking at ways in which low mood and depression can affect your thinking and introducing the key cognitive techniques of thought monitoring and thought challenging.

Part 3: Rules for living (and how to break them): 12 mins 33 secs
This third podcast focuses on the implicit “rules” affecting how you think and behave, helping you to spot when they’re serving you well and when they might be overly rigid or exacting.

Part 4: A tool for Dealing with Worry and Rumination: 16 mins 15 secs
This fourth podcast focuses on two patterns of thinking that often come with low mood and depression: worry and rumination.

Part 5: ten tips for coping in a crisis: 16 mins 18 secs
This fifth podcast focuses on those times when you’re feeling most desperate, hopeless or overwhelmed, offering some practical suggestions for how to cope and look after yourself during a mental health crisis.

Part 6: self-criticism: 20 mins 40 secs
This sixth podcast focuses on self-criticism. It looks at why we can be so critical of ourselves and when this can become a problem, and introduces three tips and tools to help you deal with unhelpful self-criticism.

Examination preparation and revision

Part one: getting into the right mind set: 12 mins, 18 secs

Additional resources for examination preparation and revision (PDF)

For any student who is preparing to take examinations at any point in their course. The podcast aims to start to identify ways of achieving a balanced approach to thinking about examinations. It offers some practical tips for overcoming different obstacles to examination preparation and suggests how to move away from over-thinking into a phase of active planning.

Part two: planning and revision: 10 mins, 7 secs

Additional resources for examination preparation and revision (PDF)

Part 2 includes useful reminders of how to start planning for revision by taking stock of knowledge to date and starting to plan and timetable your revision. There are also some ideas to help you make the most of your revision time and to help make it effective and engaging.

Part three: before, during and after the examination: 8 mins, 5 secs

Additional resources for examination preparation and revision (PDF)

This podcast focuses on the examination itself – and just before it – and what might help you to feel prepared. There are also some ideas for how to cope both in the examination and after the examination. This section also includes two brief exercises: a breathing exercise and a centring technique.

Facing finals: some psychological tips

Podcast: 14 mins, 6 secs

Offers a selection of the messages our counsellors offer to finalists who come to see us as they enter the home straight. Finalists are individuals, with different stories, academic ambition levels, and circumstances, and it is impossible to offer advice that is helpful to all. However, most listeners will find at least one thing on this list that feels relevant and helpful. We invite you to listen for that one thing and to commit yourself to making use of it.

Facing finals podcast transcript (PDF)

Can't work

Part one: 12 min, 30 secs
For students who are finding it difficult to work. You might be lacking motivation, or finding it difficult to get beyond imagining criticism and judgements. You might be having trouble finishing off your work or handing it in. The podcast is divided into two parts, designed to be listened one after another. The first part will look at some of the underlying reasons why you might be struggling to work at the moment.

Part two: 14 mins, 48 secs
The second 'Can't work' podcast contains strategies that will help you to start working again.

Mature students

Podcast: 14 mins, 15secs
Designed for any student who might be significantly older than their peers at the University and who might be dealing with particular issues as a result of this. Written in collaboration with several ‘mature students’.

Advice for freshers

Podcast: 9 mins, 30 secs
Freshers receive all sorts of advice about how to approach the experience of university. This podcast offers advice from the Oxford University Counselling Service, who see hundreds of Freshers every year, and so have a unique and privileged perspective on what can go wrong, and how to get it to go right. This podcast is designed to be relevant to all first year students as they enter into the Oxford experience - those who may be feeling daunted by the prospect of plunging into Oxford life, but also those who simply want to feel as prepared as possible to make the most of the experience.

International students 

Podcast: 16 mins, 43 secs

This podcast explores some of the emotional challenges faced by international students. It focuses on issues around coping with change, adapting to a new culture and language, and looks at some of the emotions that may emerge in the process of adjustment to a new environment.

Can’t stop work?

Podcast: 14 mins, 12 secs
Exploring overwork at Oxford, this podcast is for students who struggle to balance their work with other life activities, and find the balance tipping heavily towards their work. We explore themes including perfectionism, sustainability, the costs and benefits of overwork, defining oneself with one’s work, and discuss ideas about how to work smarter and not harder. The podcast uses real student experiences voiced by members of the counselling team.

Mindful breathing space

Podcast: 5 mins, 30secs
This is a short meditation, a breathing space, to help you to feel calm and focused in the midst of a busy day, or to use when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.  It is a way of anchoring yourself to the present moment, a pause in which to steady yourself whatever is going on around you. This mindful breathing space can be practised as little or as often as you wish but you will probably notice more benefit if you do it on a regular basis. If you would like to know more about mindfulness then visit the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation website.

Helping yourself to sleep

Podcast: 11 mins, 12secs
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for feeling well and for being able to function properly during the day. If you are having difficulty sleeping this podcast has some straightforward suggestions for improving your sleep. The Sleep Council website contains further useful information.

Considering suspension? A podcast for those who feel stuck, and unable to decide

Podcast: 20 mins, 39 secs

For students who are feeling torn between suspending their studies in response to a setback – for example a period of mental or physical illness – or carrying on with their studies. It encourages students to reflect on their motivations, draws attention to some of the upsides and downsides of taking time off, and offers some practical suggestions for reaching sound decisions based on their own particular circumstances.

Why people who need counselling don’t come for counselling (Is this you?)

Podcast:  9 mins, 36 secs

This podcast acknowledges and addresses some of the worries and pre-conceptions that can get in the way of accessing counselling, even for those who are on some level aware that they could really benefit. We hope that listening to this podcast will give you some useful encouragement, and will help you across the threshold and into our service.

Why people who need counselling don’t come podcast transcript (PDF)

The price of success: common experiences of high-achieving students

Podcast: 11 mins, 45 secs

This podcast considers how personal difficulties arise and manifest amongst otherwise successful students. It illustrates how increased self-understanding can help. Furthermore, it suggests that strategic personal development can help foster a more resourceful and secure adult identity, better equipped to manage life’s vagaries.

The relentless drive for perfection: a student context

Podcast: 17 mins, 53 secs

A conversation between two members of the University Counselling Staff about common ways in which perfectionism impacts on the enjoyment of the student experience. Useful resources that accompany the podcast include:

The pressure to be perfect: ways of responding

Podcast: 17 mins

Some ideas to help students respond to anxiety about needing to be perfect. Useful resources that accompany the podcast include:


Part one: 5 mins, 29 secs

This introductory podcast explores the concept of developing your inner resource of self-compassion and the skills required to do this. Being a student at Oxford can trigger our inner critic and hence a more dis-compassionate approach to ourselves. This can negatively affect our motivation and performance in our academic and personal lives, so the need for a more compassionate approach to the challenges you encounter on your student journey.

Part two: 10 mins, 45 secs

Part two on this topic invites you to engage in two brief, meditative and compassionate exercises to further develop your inner resource of self-compassion. The final exercise provides some hints and tips on simple yet specific things you can try to build self-compassion into your daily routine. 

Preparing for your Undergraduate Time Abroad

Part 1 – Reflecting on Previous Experiences of Transition and Change: 12 mins, 34 secs

This first podcast on preparing for your undergraduate time abroad as a student at the University of Oxford focuses on how you’re currently feeling about going overseas, and how you might start to prepare emotionally. The podcast asks you to reflect on some of your previous experiences of transition and change, to explore some of your conscious and possible unconscious motivations, and how these might be influencing your current thoughts and feelings about your time abroad.
This episode focuses on the main stages of culture shock and suggests some of the signs and symptoms to look out for. It also makes some practical suggestions about coping with common thoughts and feelings associated with each phase.

Part III – Getting Organised for Your Time Abroad (And Coming Home Afterwards): 16 mins, 51 secs

This third podcast encourages you to take a proactive approach to preparing for your time abroad. It asks you to reflect on what you might need, both practically and emotionally. You'll also think about what you can do to help the whole experience go as smoothly and enjoyably as possible, and consider briefly the re-entry process on your return home and what you want to have achieved by the time you get back.

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